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Textbook Alternatives and Open Educational Resources - Support for Faculty: Textbook Options

This page was created for faculty members ready to adopt a new textbook or choose supporting materials for an upcoming class. Find information on locating or creating non-traditional texts and lower-cost paths to traditional texts.


Cheapter or Better Alternatives?

Sometimes a traditional textbook fits a class beautifully.  Sometimes not.

Students are concerned about outrageous costs. 

Faculty are concerned about textbook content not quite matching class goals or lacking multimedia options that might most effectively teach certain concepts.

This guide offers alternatives that may offer flexibility, low cost or both.

Frugal Textbooks

Some (quality) tightwad alternatives to pricey textbooks:

  • See these options for Open Educational Resources (OER's).  These are materials available for free or very low cost through educational consortiums and commercial suppliers.
  • Digitized readings from textbooks, articles, and other materials can be placed on Auraria Library Reserves or linked to online learning spaces. Reserves submission form. Reserves FAQ.
  • If feasible, consider assigning older edition of textbooks. Or let students know if an older edition is ok.
  • Textbook cost comparison sites frequently reveal low costs for purchasing and renting. Even chapter-only rentals may be available.
  • Select a more general book as the "textbook."  If the Auraria Library doesn't own it, let the Library know you'd like the book ordered for Reserves or the general collection.

Instead of Textbooks

Integrate relevant writings, images, and media into your course by linking to them or embedding them in online learning environments, including Canvas, Blackboard, and D2L, or on a Library guide created for your class.  

Many materials supplied by the Library will have unique stable URL's or embed codes. If you can use a hand with selecting or connecting to resources contact an Auraria Librarian. Materials you might link/embed include:

In addition to major open educational resource collections, locate more free educational resources by searching the Web and combining  a word or phrase describing the topic being taught with one of these keyword combinations:.

  • educational resources
  • education resources
  • open resources
  • courseware

Example: Combining the words educational resources and environment.

Do-it-Yourself Textbooks

Create or enhance an open textbook that can be offered for free or inexpensively. 

There are now quite a few options  for doing this on your own or collaboratively.